Philadelphia Phillies Must Do Better With Runners on Base

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 28: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates with Rhys Hoskins #17 after Hoskins hit a two run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on July 28, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Phillies Offense Has Underwhelmed

The Philadelphia Phillies were supposed to be one of the most feared offenses in all of baseball this year. At times, they’ve shown they fit the profile. Other times, they’ve looked just plain lost. The Phillies are definitely underperforming in most offensive categories.

They have a team batting average of just .247, which is 20th in the Majors. Their .323 on-base percentage ranks 15th, but perhaps most surprisingly, they sit 22nd in home runs with just 145. To put that in perspective, the league-leading Minnesota Twins have already hit 223 to this point.

Phillies Must Be Better with Runners on Base

Despite these underwhelming numbers, one area, in particular, stands out to explain why the Phillies aren’t winning close games. They simply have not hit well with runners on base. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you aren’t getting hits with runners on, you’re not going to score a lot.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, they happen to be at the bottom of almost every timely hitting statistic. The Phillies have left an average of 7.18 runners on base per game, which is 27th out of 30 Major League teams. Even more disturbing, they leave more runners in scoring position per game (3.82) than any team in baseball.

They are currently hitting .255 with runners in scoring position (25th in MLB). That average dips even lower in the same situation with two outs (.231). Perhaps the most upsetting number is bases loaded strikeouts. The Phillies have struck out an eye-popping 24 times with the bases-loaded. That can’t continue to happen if this team wants to make the playoffs.

Stars Are Most Responsible

Aside from Bryce Harper, who’s batting an impressive .368 with runners in scoring position, the heart of the order has been among the worst on the team with runners on. Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto are each hitting .239 with runners in scoring position this season. It just so happens that those two also have the most at-bats in that situation.

In last night’s 8-4 loss, the Phillies went just 2-17 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base. In the top of the sixth inning, the Phillies had the bases loaded with one out and Hoskins, and Harper both struck out.

Hoskins was clearly upset and knew how much that impacted the game. “Plain and simple, I need to be better,” Hoskins told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I think if I’m better, we win that game. I’m missing pitches that I should be putting in play in those situations. It’s frustrating.”

The frustration is certainly mounting, and the Phillies need to find a way to break out of this funk. As if last night’s showing wasn’t frustrating enough, the Phillies had previously lost two of three to the sub-.500 Chicago White Sox. How’d they fair with runners in scoring position in that series? They were 5-26.

Adjustments Must be Made

There is nothing wrong with Philadelphia’s sluggers taking big hacks early in the count with guys on, but they must learn to shorten up and get the ball in play with two strikes. Manager Gabe Kapler agrees.

“We can do a better job than we’ve been doing with runners in scoring position,” he said. “One of the ways we can do that is to kind of cut down on our hacks and utilize a B swing to put the ball in play, have barrel accuracy over trying to drive the ball. I’m not saying that anyone is not taking the right approach, but what I am saying is there’s always ability to cut down a little bit and look to drive the ball into the outfield.”

If the Phillies want to have any shot at staying in the Wild Card hunt, they will no doubt have to make adjustments. There’s no doubt that RBI singles and sacrifice flies aren’t as sexy as three-run homers and grand slams, but they certainly are sexier than strikeouts and losses.

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My name is Alex Winfree. I am a 2013 graduate of Radford University (Virginia). I got my start covering sports for Radford's student-run paper, the Tartan. I covered both baseball and men's basketball. Since graduating, I have freelanced for both the Powhatan Today and Midlothian exchange, weekly locals in Central Virginia. My first love is baseball, but I also enjoy covering football and basketball. I'm currently working full-time as a body shop parts manager for Rick Hendrick Chevrolet in Richmond Virginia, but aspire to one day cover Major League Baseball full-time.

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